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Leading Admissions Officers to MBA Mission: Rounds One and Two are Virtually Equal in Terms of Selectivity

MBA Mission Exclusive 

The main admissions story thus far this year has clearly been the expected surge in applications due to the faltering economy. However, because much of the recent Wall Street carnage occurred so close to many schools’ first-round deadlines, those caught by surprise had little time to take the GMAT and submit first-round applications. As a result, numerous candidates are now concerned that they will be applying too late this year because they perceive that many places will already be given away in the first round —anxieties previously reserved not for second-round, but for third-round applicants. Well, mbaMission connected with Admissions Officers at several leading business schools and can confirm for our clients that there is plenty of scope left for submitting winning MBA applications.

For instance, we connected with Rose Martinelli, Associate Dean, Student Recruitment & Admissions, at the Chicago Graduate School of Business, who stated, “I would like to temper all this incredible pressure on applicants. What is most important is to apply well.” She then added, “Between Rounds 1 and 2 there is very little difference (in terms of selectivity)…  I can assure you that schools will not take 100% of their class from the first round. We look for the best applicants throughout the entire year, even in Round 3.”

This sentiment was echoed by Peter Johnson, Director of Admissions at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, who told mbaMission, “I think candidate anxiety may be out of proportion with the actual situation…. In the past, chances of admission to the Berkeley MBA Program in Round 2 have been almost identical to those in Round 1.” Johnson noted that in Haas’s final round, its fourth, chances will be “slight” and encouraged candidates to submit applications by the third round.

Similarly, Beth Flye, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, urged calm and patience: “First, it is most important that candidates apply when they are ready to submit their applications, as the overall process involves a lot of time, including much thought and reflection… Candidates interested in Kellogg should not operate on the assumption that they have missed the boat if they do not apply for the first application round.” Ms. Flye added, “Selectivity tends to be about the same for both the first and second rounds.”

Meanwhile, Yale’s Director of Admissions, Bruce DelMonico, regards the first two application rounds as “functionally equivalent in terms of both selectivity and scholarship availability.” He too emphasized that the final round can be more challenging, but urged candidates to be thoughtful and “submit their strongest application.” He added, “They shouldn’t rush to apply (with weaker applications) sooner.”

Clearly, there are no “new rules” for MBA applicants this year. While it can be nerve-wracking to apply in a competitive year, if you want to pursue an MBA next year, you should rest assured that you can still submit a competitive application this year. Resist the temptation to focus on the competition and instead focus on creating the most impressive and interesting application you can in order to standout from the crowd, capture the imaginations of admissions committees and take that next, exciting step in advancing your career.




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